New chart stats from Xfire show that there's a massive dropoff in players for Blizzard's Diablo III. The stats also show that over the course of late May to late June, the amount of hours players invested into the game has significantly dwindled by almost half for Xfire users.
For those that don't know, Xfire keeps track of a lot of online gaming stats and numbers, enough to help with market analysts and industry financial reports carried out by groups such as DFC Intelligence, who recently made some fairly significant statistical contributions to the state of the gaming industry's market value.
The Xfire stats for Diablo III as of June 24th shows the numbers down by more than half since May 24th, which you can check out right here. That's not very impressive. For those of you thinking that maybe this is just Xfire on a one-off, take into consideration that the stats for World of Warcraft are actually consistent and even more-so, have actually risen every-so-slightly over the past month, which you can view right here. This shows that Blizzard as a whole isn't dropping, just players from Diablo III are.
It's really no surprise that the player count and play time would be down for Diablo III given all the negative press and consumer horror stories surrounding the game.
As eloquently described in a lengthy article over at Extreme Tech, Blizzard is basically making money on the game left and right from the RMAH, "sweat shopping" gamers into grinding for a breezy 15% cut from virtual currency to real-money transactions. Blizzard is also steam-rolling through consumer complaints as quickly as they can with very little communication, as reported by Forbes. That's no surprise, though, given how silent Blizzard has been on issues such as session spoofing and the ninja-fix in patch 1.0.2b that came along thereafter.
Some Diablo III players have taken a hint and folded up their adventuring gear, packing it in a cupboard and waiting for games like Torchlight, Van Helsing and Grim Dawn instead. It's not worth the hassle of losing real-money in a scam or some sort of technical error. It's also not worth losing sight of the fun in a game, substituting enjoyment for the aim of grinding to gamble on the RMAH.
Even the Korean Government saw the hazards of attaching the RMAH to a highly addictive loot-based ARPG, and in result of all the gold farming and grey market trading they effectively banned all virtual item trades for real-world money in Korea.
But that's not even the real issue. The real issue is that Blizzard has been promoting Diablo III's always-on as a necessity to protect users from hacking, piracy and item duping, all of which have occurred with the always-on DRM in place. It's become evident that the always-on was to not only protect the Real-Money Auction House but also to coerce players online so they would be exposed to the RMAH.
For gamers who aren't gamblers, money crazy or completely devoid of sense, it became apparent that Diablo III was a pathetic attempt at a cash grab instead of a long awaited sequel to one of the most celebrated action-RPGs of all time. All those years of waiting was basically to be introduced to a seemingly fun game where the entirety of the focus centers around the Real-Money Auction House.
Gamers have been petitioning Blizzard for an offline mode, as reported by Tom's Hardware, and have constantly been crying out for some way to play the game without always being online. What's worse is that the always-on isn't even reliable. Gamers who have consistent connections are still being punished with login errors, ping issues and laggy experiences at unforeseen times.
Gaming culture should never be about battling a giant corporation to have fun with a product you paid for. Thankfully, it doesn't matter about what corporate apologists say, Blizzard is being legally hammered by both France and Germany over their anti-consumerist measures, which is a sign of good news for those looking for some kind of vindication in this matter.
This still isn't a victory yet, and until more players drop out of playing the game Blizzard is still the one with the upperhand. However, as lag continues to play a big part in the Diablo III experience for many players; the RMAH continues to cue community woes and customer support continues to come across as clueless, it won't be long before Diablo III will have cemented feet in an ocean of pro-consumer rage.